French filmmaker Tony Gatlif is best know for his film “Latcho Drom,” which follows the trail of the Romani (Gypsy) people from Rajasthan in northwestern India to Spain. The film contained almost no dialogue and relied solely on music to tell the story of the Romani people and their journey from India to the European continent. The film was an unexpected success at Cannes in 1993, and it established Gatlif as a filmmaker to watch.
In 2000 Gatlif released “Vengo,” which describes a rivalry between two Andalucian families. The film was his ode to the artistry of flamenco dancing and allowed Gatlif to collaborate with one of the world’s greatest flamenco dancers, Antonio Canales. Canales plays the role of Caco, the film’s proud main character who must fight for his family’s honor and safety. “Vengo” provides non-Roma an opportunity to peek into the everyday lives and traditions of the Gypsy community and, like “Latcho Drom,” exposes new audiences to the incredible music of the Roma.
This Saturday, July 9 the Red Vic Movie House in San Francisco is showing “Vengo” with a very special performance from underground music icon Jonathan Richman. Richman, known for fronting the seminal proto-punk band The Modern Lovers and for his own solo material which was most famously showcased in the 1998 comedy “There’s Something About Mary.” Richman is a longtime flamenco fan and will be joined by some of his friends from the Bay Area flamenco community. This is one of Richman’s favorite films and he’s expected to make live commentary on the film as it screens. If you are unfamiliar with either Gatlif or Richman, this is an amazing opportunity to experience the talents of both in a casual, fun environment. Tickets are available here.